Helping to Guide the Interior Designers of Tomorrow

Since 2014, we’ve been partnering with Meredith College’s Construction Technology course to give interior design students the opportunity to tour the build site of one of our projects. This partnership gives students a real-world example of what to expect during a custom home or remodeling project, and it also allows us to interact with future designers and hear their feedback about the construction process. 

Throughout the course of the Construction Technology class, interior design students learn about structural systems and how to better communicate with engineers, architects, and builders during a residential build. The tour serves as a nice complement to what they learn throughout the semester. 

Lisa Wilson, the professor for the course, explains, “I try to teach my students that team effort is crucial for every construction process. Drawings are only about 60% of the process; everything else happens out in the field. Getting to take them to an actual construction site and see the teamwork in action is eye-opening for them.”

During the tour, students spend about an hour walking through one of our construction sites, interacting with the project manager and Mary Beth Buie, our Client Coordinator. Mary Beth, who is a Meredith grad herself, was also an interior design major, so she can offer a unique perspective to students who are following the path she once took. 

Mary Beth says, “As a designer myself, I enjoy pointing out the workarounds that happen when structural plans interfere with aesthetics. Those things can be hard to understand in theory, but it’s easier to point out on the job site. I also use it as an opportunity to emphasize the importance of how changes and delays can impact the overall budget and schedule.”

At the end of the semester, the Construction Technology students must put together a set of construction documents for their final project. As a result, Lisa and Mary Beth work together to schedule the tour by the mid-point of the semester to give the students a chance to put what they learn onsite and apply it to their project. 

“We have different homes and projects going on at different stages, so when we schedule the tour, I speak to Lisa first to see what kind of projects she’s interested in seeing. One of our primary goals is to bring the students to a job that has not had drywall put in yet, so they can see the wiring and all the other happenings behind the walls,” explains Mary Beth. 

She continues, “While onsite, the students get a better understanding that once you start building, sometimes things change a little bit and everything is connected. Small things can impact the framing, foundation, engineering, plumbing, etc., but it’s not easy to visualize that until you see it for yourself.”

This tour gives them the chance to not only visualize, but ask questions to professionals. As a result, their final projects are more accurate and they feel better equipped to complete their construction documents. 

From Lisa’s perspective, the tour ends up being an invaluable experience for her students. She says, “Many of my students have never been on a construction site and they may not be familiar with some of the methods of construction that we get to see onsite. This experience really lets them get into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of a project and see the big picture instead of just focusing on one small aspect of a project.”

For as much as the students get out of the tour, the feeling is mutual for the Rufty Homes team. Mary Beth says, “We enjoy being able to offer ourselves as mentors to these students and provide insight into the working life of an interior design professional by showing them how they’ll directly impact other trades. It’s also an opportunity for us to share client experiences with them and show them that their job is critical both to the general contractor, but the client as well and that interior designers are leaned on for more support and decision-making than they might otherwise think. We look forward to continuing this partnership for years to come.”

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© 2021 Rufty Homes Inc. All rights reserved
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